Quick switch to first-person-cam. The camera finds Spike rifling through boxes in what I guess must be the SHS basement. He finds what he's looking for and shakes it out. It's his old coat, which we last saw at Casa Summers. Jump cut to Spike putting it on. When I stop and think about what that coat symbolizes, I can't help but be a little disgusted. Spike might as well be wearing the flayed skin of Wood's mom. "Dramatic" music plays. Spike strides down the halls, coat billowing in his wake. I have to laugh here. He walks past Wood, who is lurking in a doorway. Wood: "Nice coat. Where'd you get it?" Spike: "New York." Wood looks pensive. Seems Wood wants to check out the information the First gave him about Spike killing his mother before he takes any action, which is a prudent course, I think, since The First is, y'know, evil. It makes an interesting parallel to Buffy, who was only too happy to go off and hack Anya to bits earlier this season.
Casa Summers. Willow is chanting in Latin, and boy, does she sound pissed. "Screw it!" she screams. "Mighty forces, I suck at Latin, okay? That's not the issue. I'm the one in charge and I'm telling you, open a portal now!" When that doesn't work, Willow reaches back with CGI-fingers and drains the power she needs from Anya and Kennedy. Is that what the nice witches in the Coven taught you to do, Willow? I don't think so. In any case, the portal opens.
By this time, Buffy has had just about enough. "You think I came all this way to get knocked up by some demon dust?" She realizes that while she can't fight the black smoke, she can kick some shaman ass. She conveniently finds a burst of strength and rips her chains free. She takes on the shamans, avenging "whoever that girl was before she was the First Slayer."
Spike. Spike kicks ass too. He's found the demon and is clearly having quite a fun time whaling on it. He breaks the demon's neck, then lights a match on the felled demon's horn to a backdrop of electric guitar power chords. Yeah. It really is as cheesy as it sounds. I think one of my problems with this season is that I have no trust in the people putting this show together. Am I supposed to like Kennedy, or is my reading of Kennedy as a miserable little suck who needs to be taken down a peg or four the interpretation that the writers wish me to make? Am I supposed to get excited about Spike putting on his Slayer-skin coat and stomping around? Because I find it a little pathetic that his sense of self is tied up in an artifact that so obviously symbolizes a life that Spike has left behind. Should I be getting the message that Spike can't go back anymore, that he can't be that person either, or does ME actually want me to find this sludge empowering?